Medical malpractice is hard to handle in any scenario, but it can be exceedingly difficult to tackle as a member of the military. Between the nature of these injuries and how much they can impact your life, medical malpractice cases arising from military healthcare systems involve a great deal of anguish. Filing a claim against any military-based agency is difficult, but as an active service member, this process can be long, arduous, and complicated. Fortunately, certain legal protections allow for members of the armed forces, both on active duty and in the reserves, to get the justice they deserve.
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which prohibits certain claims from being filed against the government, also bars service personnel from filing a claim against the government after suffering an injury while on active duty. This prohibition was established by the 1950 Feres Doctrine, a Supreme Court ruling that prohibits active-duty military soldiers from suing the military for injuries that they suffered while serving, with very limited exceptions. Even if a service member who is currently on active duty seeks treatment at a VA facility, or from a military doctor for an injury or sickness that has nothing to do with their military career, this policy still applies to them.
For malpractice cases, the Feres Doctrine has been a significant problem for those looking to file a claim against the government for medical malpractice, preventing active-duty service members from filing claims while enlisted. The Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act, passed in 2019, gives active-duty service members the ability to file a claim against the VA medical system for malpractice. For example, if you receive a misdiagnosis from a VA doctor during a routine visit while on active duty that leads to a larger injury or illness, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act will allow you to submit a claim for malpractice.
Current legislation and judicial rulings make filing malpractice claims as a member of the armed forces difficult. The Feres Doctrine has been a major roadblock for military members seeking justice through legal claims against the government. However, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act can offer some solace for those on active duty. Under the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act, active-duty members of the armed forces may submit an administrative claim for any kind of medical negligence case that fits the following requirements:
Although the Feres Doctrine prevents active-duty service members from filing a claim against the government outright, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act provides a special exemption for cases involving medical malpractice. Although the United States is both the defendant and the party deciding the validity of your claim, the best way to ensure that you have a proper case is by compiling all your evidence together and filing a claim as soon as possible. Seeking legal advice from a top-tier law firm is the best way to ensure that your case is airtight, helping you get the settlement you deserve.
A: You may file a claim against the negligent party if you were the victim of medical negligence at a military doctor’s hands or a VA institution. The Feres Doctrine prohibits lawsuits against the military by active-duty personnel. However, unless you are suing on behalf of a spouse, a non-active-duty veteran, or a retired veteran, you cannot pursue charges while on active duty. For malpractice claims, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act makes these cases legally permissible.
A: Unfortunately, active-duty military members cannot file a claim against military doctors after suffering malpractice at a VA hospital or military-run medical facility. However, after retiring from service, or being considered part of the army reserves, the option to file a claim against these government agencies is open and legally permissible.
A: Although active-duty military personnel cannot file a claim against military doctors, veterans can. Alongside veterans, families of active-duty enlisted service members have the option to file a malpractice claim on behalf of their spouse. However, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act allows currently enlisted members to file a malpractice claim as well.
A: The statute of limitations on any malpractice suit is two years after the alleged incident, so any claim forms must be submitted within that window. While on active duty, the Richard Stayskal Medical Accountability Act allows you to file a claim for medical malpractice, but if your active-duty term ends within those two years, you can file as a civilian.
Medical malpractice is never easy to handle, especially with the bigger legal restrictions on how to file these claims. After any medical malpractice incident, your first steps should be collecting evidence and finding legal representation. Any evidence that supports your claim, from diagnoses to medical records, can be used to bolster your assertions and outwardly prove malpractice. In terms of counsel, the legal team at Cronin & Maxwell is well-versed in medical malpractice law for those in the armed forces. We can help you get the justice that you deserve for the pain you have experienced. For more information, contact us today.